One of the things that people ask me the most often is how do I manage to get any writing around my busy life. True, my life is busy, but so is everyone’s. I raise 4 kids (2 are teenagers albeit, but that’s its own happy difficulty), home school them, teach at an enrichment program outside the home, help with my husband’s business and books, cook, clean, thinking about doing the laundry, and on and on…. Sound familiar? Or at least the work load?
Where’s the time to write?
Everyone I know is trying to “balance things.” Here’s the thing, I don’t think it’s possible. At least not in the way we think of balance.
One of the things that causes people to “fail” at balancing the many areas of their life is that they think once in balance, always in balance and when that doesn’t happen, it feels like a fail.
But things are always shifting. And really, it wouldn’t be balancing if they weren’t. It would be static. Instead, it’s like riding a wave, you shift one way and the next as the water changes beneath you because it’s going to change beneath you. And really, that’s what keeps it interesting.
My best advice for riding the wave
- Be realistic. Take good and honest stock of your life at this moment. What are the areas in which your time and presence is needed the most, what’s next, and so on.
Set realistic expectations and goals. You may have heard that you should set aside an hour each day or make sure you write 1000 words a day. Those are good, if that’s realistic for you. If you know good and well that you can’t do that, for whatever life reason, then don’t set that as your goal. There is no timeline or process that is one size fits all.
- Be satisfied. Perhaps you really wish you had more time to write, but per #1, you don’t. That’s life. Be ok with that. A new season will come around.
Maybe you have young children and you want to and need to spend most of your time with them. Great. They need you. Spend the time. Maybe you have to work 40 hours or more a week, you just have to. That’s life. You gotta pay the bills. Don’t lament the time you don’t have. Be grateful for the moments that this place in life allows you to follow your dreams.
- Be flexible. As soon as you figure it all out, things will change. Change with them.
Sometimes it will be a change that gives you more time to write, and sometimes less. Re-evaluate often so that you don’t become overwhelmed with shifting waters that are getting rougher than you’ve admitted to.
- Be serious. Now that you have your “writing time,” guard it.
If you’re going to write from 12-3pm on Wednesdays because it’s your day off and someone is watching the kids for you, then write on Wednesdays from 12-3. Don’t go to the grocery store or agree to meet a friend for a quick lunch. Write when it’s time to write. Even if you don’t have a book out or even a deadline to get something in, take yourself seriously as a writer.
- Be attuned. “Balancing” work, home, and any given passion is tough. You deserve to take time for yourself. Your dreams and goals are important, but no one part is greater than the sum.
Don’t wait for some magical time when all the areas of your life align and you have all the time you want to write, you’ve become wealthy and have no financial needs to attend to, and that family has taken care of themselves and no one needs you. That time isn’t coming. Life shifts and changes and if you’re waiting for perfect, if you’re waiting for “time” you’ll never get it done, whatever it is. Know that your goals are important, but that your family is more important. Your talents are given to you for a purpose, but you also have responsibilities to attend to. That’s where you find balance, not in even distribution of time, but in equal appreciation for all pieces of your life.